COLLINSVILLE (WSIL) -- Ameren Illinois is providing $8 million in bill payment assistance for qualified customers.
The company says its "Fresh Start" program is designed to help those impacted by COVID-19.
Under the program, up to $700 is available for customers struggling to pay energy bills as a result of the pandemic.
"This has been a very difficult stretch for many of our customers," said Richard J. Mark, Chairman and President of Ameren Illinois. "While we're seeing some indications that the economy is improving and people are getting back to work, the need for assistance remains high. We're glad to be in a position to provide additional financial support and offer a fresh start for customers who are most in need."
Ameren Illinois says income-qualified customers with past-due account balances may be eligible for funding.
The income guidelines are on a sliding scale based on family size. The utility company offered the following examples:
• A family of four with a monthly income of up to $4,367 may be eligible to receive up to $400 for electric bills and up to $300 for natural gas bills. Customers in this income range must first receive assistance from the Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) before applying for Fresh Start funding. To apply for LIHEAP, visit HelpIllinoisFamilies.com or call 877-411-9276. If a past-due balance remains after LIHEAP assistance is received, apply for Fresh Start by calling Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
• A family of four with a monthly income between $4,367 and $7,642 may be eligible to receive up to $200 for electric bills and up to $150 for natural gas bills. Fresh Start funds for past-due customers in this income range are administered by the Energy Assistance Foundation. See the list of participating agencies and apply by visiting WarmNeighborsCoolFriends.org.
Income guidelines as well as more information on the program can be found at AmerenIllinois.com/Recovery.
Ameren Illinois says since the program opened on July 9, nearly 5,000 customers have received bill payment assistance.